News & Publications

Georgia Attorney/Pilot Leads Air Rescue Mission for Ebola Patient

August 12, 2014
Contact: Sarah I. Coole or sarahc@gabar.org

Atlanta - A Georgia lawyer has received international attention for his critical role in the extraordinary transport from Africa to the United States of an American missionary diagnosed with the Ebola virus.

Randall H. Davis, vice president and general counsel of Cartersville-based Phoenix Air Group Inc. and a member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia, was one of three pilots who captained the mission to evacuate Nancy Writebol from Monrovia, Liberia, and fly her back to Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital.

Davis said Phoenix Air’s Gulfstream G-III jet departed Cartersville on Aug. 3 for the flight to Lajes Air Base in the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean west of Portugal, then on to Monrovia. The following day, the team flew from Monrovia to Lajes Air Base to Bangor, Maine, and to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, where a specially equipped ambulance was waiting to take Writebol to Emory.

It was the second such mission for Phoenix Air. Two days earlier, the company had successfully brought Dr. Kent Brantly, who was also infected with Ebola, from Liberia to Atlanta to begin his treatment.

“Our team has done very well on these complex flight/medevac operations,” Davis said. “I remain in awe of what Phoenix Air dispatchers and our flight and medical crews can do in a short period of time. I am grateful to be able to leave my desk and help out from time to time on some of these unique missions.”

Davis told ABC News that he was not nervous about his proximity to the contagious patient, given the special isolation precautions that had been taken. He said his participation in the rescue of Writebol, a missionary with the SIM USA charity based in Charlotte, N.C., was an honor.

“I think everybody everywhere would agree that you’d like to try to help people who are so selfless,” he said in the ABC interview. “In any job, when you can help some people first hand and see what they have done and even meet some of the family members, it certainly is a gratifying experience.”

Davis is a graduate of Emory University Law School and was admitted to the State Bar in 1979. In addition to aviation law and corporate counsel, Davis is a member of the State Bar’s sections on animal law, consumer law, general practice and trial law, senior law and tort and insurance law.

State Bar President Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker said, “All Georgia lawyers can draw inspiration from our colleague’s voluntary and heroic leadership in such a highly sensitive rescue mission. Through efforts like this, outside the practice of law, Randy Davis continues to fulfill his duty as an attorney to serve others and bring honor to the legal profession in our state. I am very proud of his selfless and thoughtful service to the citizens of Georgia.”

Phoenix Air provides a variety of aviation services to its clients, ranging from air charter to air ambulance to air cargo to military training. For the journey to and from Liberia, Davis said he and the two co-pilots took turns flying and resting, a routine practice for long flights.

“When we landed at Dobbins, our special passenger went into the ambulance,” he said. “We wished her a speedy recovery, and we repositioned to home base in the heart of Bartow County.”

Davis concluded, “All went well in Liberia, where I took a photo of our Gulfstream, which, I might add, is a fine Chatham County product. It was sitting pretty on the ramp in Monrovia and ready to receive its special passenger. We now call this our ‘Angel Airplane.’”

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The State Bar of Georgia, with offices in Atlanta, Savannah and Tifton, was established in 1964 by Georgia’s Supreme Court as the successor to the voluntary Georgia Bar Association, founded in 1884. All lawyers licensed to practice in Georgia belong to the State Bar. Its more than 46,000 members work together to strengthen the constitutional promise of justice for all, promote principles of duty and public service among Georgia’s lawyers, and administer a strict code of legal ethics.